Memories of Flying in Cuba

Off to Cuba in 1999.  Flew one day late due to engine problems. Should of seen it as a sign. Arrived in Havana and mooched around. For me it was a delight. For the locals a nightmare stuck in time. Remember one shop, a chemists, with only vinegar for sale.

Onwards and another flight. Driven out to an airport that an Estate Agent/Realtor would call ‘’well lived in.’’ There was a plane, shiny and modern. A list of names tramped out and boarded the gleam machine. I waited. Next airplane. Older but relatively new and smaller. Another list, but not for me. Then I spied a relic being towed to  museum or knackers yard. No, wait a minute, it’s stopping. It stopped outside the departure lounge. Departure seemed to take on a new meaning. Everyone left was beckoned onto the relic. An ancient Antonov, probably from the 1950s love festival between Castro and the U.S.S.R.

As we approached the Wright brothers reject an engineer was tapping the nose cone with a mallet. Nervous laughter. On we climbed. The seats gently in their brackets and Russian accompanied Spanish instructions. Gunning the engine outrageously, the pilot got us airborne.

As we straightened out the cabin began to fill with smoke. The steward ran up the aisle to assure us it was harmless and from the old air conditioning  system. More nervous laughter, and a large rum, please. As I sat in the window seat I decided to watch and pray. Then to my dismay a flame shot back out of the engine. A couple of people said, ooh and one person screamed. The steward tried allay our fears by stating that on these engines, ‘’it was normal.’’ He needed to try harder. Well we landed and it was time for a large rum..Return flight to Havana was at night, in a thunderstorm on the same aircraft. It was a very, very quite flight.

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Baggage Allowance

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Whitby bound soon. Flying to Newcastle, and later out of Leeds, with Ryanair. Some wags say that is the best thing to do with Leeds. Fly out.

The luggage allowance is so low with Ryanair that I can only pack my emotional luggage. Could still be tricky! Must check how many pairs of socks I can fit on my feet?

Travel and Pollution

Ripping the skies

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We travel. We like to go places. I like to travel. Travel broadens the mind. We like to travel to many places. Most people travel by air. Flying further and further in search of the exotic or simply a week in the sun. This coupled to an increase in the number of people travelling is a cause of pollution. Flying is the number one culprit. Estimates state that around 13-15 percent of greenhouse gases in the UK are generated by aircraft.

As we speak, the Arctic is rapidly moving towards an ice-free scenario. The upshot will be the increase in plumes of greenhouse gases, which will warm the planet even more. Our protection, the Arctic Ice, which has  shielded us from climate extremes is rapidly disappearing. Predictions state that 2016 will be the hottest year ever since records began.

We are like a smoker with a hacking cough who simply cannot quit. We are addicted to our own demise. Technologically there is no airborne revolution that will change this situation. Certainly not one which will comply with the number one directive. Namely to make money.

This is something we must take into account when planning our travels. For as we travel, we are killing that which nurtures us all, our planet. It is time to look beyond our own noses. But will we?

Whitby Goth Preparations

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As  posted earlier, in late October we are off to Whitby. ‘’Where is Whitby, exacxtly’’ asked my lovely wife.

I replied ‘’Coordinates: 54°29′09″N 0°37′14″W / 54.4858°N 0.6206°W / 54.4858; -0.6206.’’

She smiles by way of reply.

Whitby is a small coastal settlement in Yorkshire, just up t’ road from Scarborough.  Picturesque cottages have been redefined as lovely from their former status as ‘mean’ hovels for the lower classes to live in. Picturesque it is, cold it certainly can be! Along the coast another worthwhile place to visit is Robin Hoods Bay. But this is Yorkshire I hear you exclaim, go on, exclaim. Better? Good. Well in fact, as much as we can glean from history, Robin was a Yorkshire man. Which explains a few things!

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Anyway, Whitby is going to host a Goth rock music and general dressing up weekend to tie in with Halloween.Should be nifty. Wife planning clothing. What do I go as? Anyway, simply have to fly into one airport, hire a car, drive on the wrong side of t’ road, with steering wheel on wrong side of car, at night. Party and parade whilst trying to stay warm, go to the gig, drive back in t’ dark to another airport. Pay extra for the privilege and all in one weekend. Not so dusty.

(t’ = the).

I haven’t told anyone yet, but they must learn the words to the following song before being allowed to leave Yorkshire. A one, a two, a one two….

Wheear ‘ast tha bin sin’ ah saw thee, ah saw thee?

On Ilkla Mooar baht ‘at

Wheear ‘ast tha bin sin’ ah saw thee, ah saw thee?

Wheear ‘ast tha bin sin’ ah saw thee?

On Ilkla Mooar baht ‘at

On Ilkla Mooar baht ‘at

On Ilkla Mooar baht ‘at

Tha’s been a cooartin’ Mary Jane

Tha’s bahn’ to catch thy deeath o’ cowd

Then us’ll ha’ to bury thee

Then t’worms’ll come an’ eyt thee up

Then t’ducks’ll come an’ eyt up t’worms

Then us’ll go an’ eyt up t’ducks

Then us’ll all ha’ etten thee

That’s wheear we get us ooan back

 

I foresee no foreseeable problems.

 

Web of Intrigue

My next post was going to be on Cassis, Nice Cannes and fun, fun Verdon Gorge Well truth to tell, other things take my beady little eyes. For instance, sitting at home and watching the local Air Show on Sunday. Just how do you show air? Anyway, as I sat with book in hand, and viewing the Air Show, I turned to my right, and there next to me was a spiders web.

Do you know, of course you do, that a spiders web can withstand a hurricane! The complexity of the structure means that if one cord gets broken, the web itself grows stronger. Nifty. Well, sitting in the middle was an evil looking arachnid. And he had a guest. Mr Fly had come for dinner, or rather to be dinner. Do I watch the Air Show, or the spider and fly act? Goodbye Air show. I talked about this with a student on Monday and they told me that spiders melt the flies, and suck them up. Like a McDonald’s slushy. Students love telling me such things, yuck! Anyway the fly slowly disappeared and I left the spider for his cracker and cheese course.

The day was hot, and the door to the living room left open. Later that day I decided to watch a documentary about Zanzibar. A place we might visit next year. Anyway down we sat in front of laptop all cosy and cuddly. A little while later I felt something on my face, and in the dark simply batted it away. Then my wife went into hyperdrive. Screaming, shrieking at levels that shattered our crystal vase, she leaped like a whirlin’ Dervish into the air and across the room. A wonderful combination of legs performing an Irish Riverdance, and arms something like Saturday Night Fever played out before my eyes. ZShe really can move well! A spider had descended onto her in the dark and was making her its new home. Pulling spiders web from her shoulders and hair she continued to scream.

The perpetrator? A small rolled up spider fell t the floor. Making quietening noises I manfully approached the spider. Just as I got to it, the arachnid unfolded itself and, well, it looked quite big. Really. It was the same spider. Manfully I took a step backwards, collected a dustpan and brush. This way I would not hurt it, and more importantly not get too close. With the screaming finished a wonderful nervous laughter entered the room. Did it wish to melt my wife? I shall never know.

Hopefully tonight we can finish Zanzibar without our spidery friend.

 

 

Bill Hit The Nail on The Head

IMG_1948“But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”

Bill Bryson, Neither Here Nor There: Travel in Europe.

Memories of Java. Pictures in the Mind.

Mid 1990s. Flew from Singapore to Jakarta. From Jakarta headed straight out by comfortable train to Bandung. Couldn’t sit with my lady on the train and her sister, so I sat opposite a young local man who chatted to me. He told me to put away the copy of Schindler’s List, which I was reading, at least whilst in public.Then he mused upon the fact of how wonderful snow must be. I didn’t want to disabuse him of this line of thought.

Then we got down to the nub of his conversation. Upon my return t the UK he wanted me to send him a copy of Mayfair or Penthouse. I dutifully took down his address. Dutifully put it in my pocket, and dutifully lost it. So I  never sent the material. Hope he wasn’t too disappointed.

Bandung hailed into view. Checked in to a cheap hostel and went for a stroll with the girls. Smiley faces everywhere, people arm in arm, arms around shoulders, men too. The girls felt safe. Nice atmosphere. Remember a barber’s shop. Men in a row having their hair cut by barbers in a row.  The barbers stood out as they wore surgical masks and gloves. Strange. Ate the most delicious sweet pancake type of food. Served from a small glass topped hand cart. We became obsessed, couldn’t get enough of our food fix.

Next destination Yogyakarta for a soupçon of culture.